Saturday, October 26, 2013

Race Reflection: Benjamin Wheeler

I'm reflecting back on my run for Ben today.  Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind when I think back on that day is the fact that it was, hands down, the hardest race of my life.  You name it, it happened.  Rain, hail, thunder, lightening.  And best of all...the race was entirely up hill.  No really.  Entirely up hill. 

I was writing this race reflection in my mind the entire time that I was running.  I felt like I was having a dialog with Ben the whole time I was out there.  Reacting and jumping to every clap of thunder.  Wiping away the rain from my eyes.  Shielding myself from the hail.  "This sucks, Ben."  I was saying in my head.  "I can't believe they didn't call this race off.  This isn't even close to safe."  A car drove past me on one stretch, splashing me from a puddle as they went.  I felt the curse words rise in my throat when suddenly they were replaced with laughter.  I shook my head, laughed out loud, and spoke to Ben again.  "You better appreciate this birthday present buddy!"

I ran for Ben on his birthday.  Stars aligned and some how, I was able to find a road race on his birthday, which fell on a Thursday.  In what universe does someone plan a road race mid week?  It never happens.  And the fact that there was one for me to run, makes me believe that I had a little extra help, yet again. 

I almost gave up that day.  I almost didn't run.  No one would have blamed me for rescheduling- that night was a bear.  But then I thought, "I bet the Wheelers have days where they would just love to give up.  I bet they have days where they don't feel like they can fight another battle."  But they do.  The Wheelers have dedicated their lives to making Ben's story impact the world.  To working towards a world where parents never have to say goodbye to their children ever again for a reason like this.  Have you ever heard them speak?  They are incredible.  They are so moving and so strong that you just know that they are driven by something incredibly powerful.  And you don't doubt for a second that Ben sits behind them, encouraging and pushing them to fight another day.  Helping them to right this wrong in whatever way is possible.

Every clap of thunder and each bolt of lightening that night felt like a battle cry.  It felt like a deep roar of victory.  A reminder that there is a movement happening right now that will make this world a better place.  A safer place for our children. And it pushed me on to battle for one more step up that mountain.

People like the Wheelers are leading a charge and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to them for the strength and resilience that they show us all every single day.  Thinking about what they battle every day....well.  That makes a silly little hill in the rain look pitiful.  And I'm in awe of them and their fighting spirit.

Ben.  You have incredible parents that will continue to fight for you every day for the rest of their lives.  You are being honored by them and your community will stand shoulder to shoulder with them every step of the way as they persevere.   Thank you for holding my hand that day and running along my side.  I never would have made it had you not laughed along with me as I ran. 

P.S- I had a brownie in your honor that night when I got home.  Your dad told me that they are your favorite.  XOXO


Here is Benjamin Wheeler.  The 19th angel I have now run for.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Race Announcement: Dylan Hockley and James Mattioli

On Saturday October 26th, I will be running the Milford Trick or Trot for Dylan Hockley and on Sunday October 27th, I will be running the Brookfield Halloween 5k.

Busy weekend celebrating Halloween in two handsome boys honor.  Come out and run in the beautiful fall weather if you can make it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Race Reflection: Jessica Rekos

Jessica hit the closest to home.  Jessica is the little girl that made me crash to the floor on December 14th and with panicked thoughts think, "This is real.  And this could have happened to any one of us."  While the knowledge of each and every life lost that day would slam into my chest  like a battering ram and devastate me beyond comprehension, it was Jessica that would make the whole situation drive home.

Jessica's parents graduated two years ahead of me from Newtown High School.  We were not friends, but I knew of them.  I have close friends that are close friends of theirs- some of which ran along side me on the day of Jessica's race.  And for whatever reason...having that distant connection to them and knowing that there are two people, two parents, so close to my own age that are dealing with something this incomprehensible......I still can't wrap my brain around it.

We are still in that age where bad things don't happen, we feel invincible for the most part.  We live in a place where children aren't ripped from our arms.  These things should not EVER happen.  As a parent, you dream up every way to keep your child safe.  Lock the doors.  Buy a big dog. Teach them not to talk to strangers.  Keeping them home from school never crosses your mind.  Not here.

You may think you understand it, but you don't truly know it until you have a baby, that the phrase, "your heart walking around on the outside of your body," is so true it's impossible to put adequately into words.  They are your heart, your soul, your reason for breathing.  You would do anything to protect them.  And you worry every second of every day that you'll look away for half a second and they'll touch that hot pan, do a nose dive into the coffee table, or fall off the swings.  You want nothing more than to put them in a bubble and protect them from everything that could possible touch them.  The mere thought of something harming your child sends your gut twisting and an ache takes over your whole body.  You worry about school, but for the traditional reasons.  A bully, not keeping up with the classroom milestones, falling on the playground.  We can't live in a world where we have to add the unthinkable to that list of concerns.  We, as parents, have enough to worry about.  If there is something that we can do to make the world a little bit safer, a little less scary, we need to do it.

10 months later and nothing has been done. And I can give you 26 damn good reasons why that's not good enough.

Here is the beautiful Miss Jessica Rekos.  She is the 18th angel I have now run for:

Race Announcement: Olivia Engel

Take two for Olivia!  I will be running the Great Pumpkin Classic in Trumbull, CT for Olivia this coming Sunday, October 20th.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Race Announcement: Double Header Weekend_Anne Marie Murphy and Olivia Engel

On Saturday, October 5th, I will be running the MarcUS for Change Race out of Stamford, CT which benefits the Stamford Public Education Foundation in honor of Anne Marie Murphy.

On Sunday, October 6th, I will be running the Coastal Light House Run out of Bridgeport for the beautiful Miss Olivia Engel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Race Reflection: Grace McDonnell

There has never been a more perfect run ever logged on the books then the run that I ran for Grace McDonnell. Not in the history of running has there been better weather conditions, better scenery, a better sense of well being and ease.  Even the music that streamed through my ipod was perfect that day.

I picked the "Run the Route for Youth Race" specifically for Grace because it was to be held on the beautiful Silver Sands beach in Milford, CT.  Every picture that I have seen of Grace, she's always on the beach. Smiling and happy.  Blending in with the scenery like she was born to run through waves.  When I saw this race, she was the first person that came to mind.

The day was overcast and cool.  But to a runner, that's a recipe for a great run.  Zero humidity and no sun beating down over head.  And from the moment I arrived at the race location, there was an undeniable calmness that washed over me, which isn't usually the case.  I get jitters when I race.  Mostly because I'm afraid of not doing my absolute best for those that I am trying to honor.  The further I get into this project, the more responsibility I feel to do right by them.  The more people stop me to say that they recognize me from my blog or facebook posts.  So I start to feel like I have eyes on me, mostly to cheer me on.  But the eyes hold me to stand true to my word that I will do my best to honor each and every person as best as I can. So I worry that I will trip on my shoe laces, or that I will pass out in the heat.  Not finishing a race is not ever an option.

But, like I said.  There was an undeniable calm that day.  I have never in all my life, felt so incredibly at peace during a run.  Running is stressful on your joints, your chest constricts, your throat gets dry, your stomach cramps.  But there was none of that that day.  I felt like I was running on pillows.  I fell into a pace that was above average for me normally and I did it with comfort and ease.  I usually run with a preset playlist on my iPod, but my battery was drained so I had to run with Pandora on my iPhone and wouldn't you know it, but every song that played was exactly what I needed.

The day was perfect.  And I'm going to let myself believe that Grace gave me that.  As if she slipped right into my head and said, "Hey.  Let's just enjoy a beach day together, yeah?"  And we did just that.  A day at the beach with Grace.  Perfect.

Here is Grace McDonnell.  The 17th angel I have no run for:

Race Reflection: Caroline Previdi

Often times I sit down to write these race reflections and I have no idea what I'm going to write about. How many times and in how many different ways can you express how hard it is to write about something that never should have happened? About a person that was pulled from this Earth too soon? How many ways can you say, "I'm sad"? It's crazy to think that we are mere months away from the one year anniversary of December 14th. Life is going on all over the world but in Newtown, there isn't a day that goes by where we don't remember. There are constant subtle reminders around town with everything from car magnets saying "Sandy Hook Strong", to green ribbons on trees. So while everyone else in the world takes on another day safely tucked away from the reminders, we are here. Living it every day. Wondering when the pain will pass. While not wanting it to pass away at all, because if the pain passes, does the memory?

Some days I stop and it hits me.....this really happened. And it doesn't feel possible. The pain we feel when we focus on the loss is the only thing that convinces you that something this terrible actually happened in the town that you grew up in. And that pain brings you a tiny connection to those that are no longer here. In a town that felt like time stood still. Where nothing bad could ever happen. Because nothing ever did. Find a Newtown resident. Someone that experienced Newtown as a child. They'll tell you that Newtown was a bubble. We were a universe unto ourselves. If you told someone where you were from back in the day, they wouldn't know where you were from until you explained that it was right next to Danbury or Fairfield. We liked our bubble. You could go a few towns over for excitement and then come home to the safety and security of all that is Newtown. Now we are on the map. And for all the wrong reasons.

 I was on vacation a few months ago. And when you are on vacation, you always end up making friends with other people on vacation- at a restaurant, the beach, whatever. Everyone is happy and talkative because it's vacation. The inevitable question comes up. "So, where are you folks from?"  Deep breath. Head high. Chest out. "Newtown." And they make that face. You know that they know. So you don't let them hang in that awkward place.  We've made it our job to be the front line of defense for our town.  To show the world we will do our part to make the world better on the backs of our experience.  So in response, we put on that brave face and we sing the praises of the all the reasons to love Newtown and we talk about how proud we are to be from a place that has rallied so hard behind families that have lost more than anyone should.

Caroline and I ran together back on July 21st.  I picked a race for her that was being put on in honor of a young man that, by everything that I read, had a zest for life and loved to dance.  From what I read of Caroline, she had that same passion.  When I began to get tired, I called on Caroline to help me "dance" through it.  I thought of how children never get winded, never lose speed, and I tried to channel that energy into my own legs.  It always helps me to visualize the person I am running for that day and that race was no different.  The tightness in my chest lifts immediately when I thought of Caroline.  My legs had enough left to speed me through to the finish line.  And when I crossed over the line, the announcer of the race called out, "Crossing the finish line now is Lindsay K.  Running in honor of Caroline Previdi from Sandy Hook.  Great job, Lindsay!" I don't know how he got my information or how he knew, but he helped make Caroline feel ever more present with me over the line.  Like she was holding my hand over the line.  I live for the moments like that through all of this.  To have at least one moment in the race that I can feel, without a shadow of a doubt, that the person I am running for that day is with me.  No questions asked. And it heals my heart a bit.

I have this visual.  I picture my heart and it's fractured into 26 different, jagged pieces.  And every time I cross a finish line, one piece slides back into place.  A little rougher for the wear, but back in place none the less. I'm curious to see what my heart looks like after 10 more finish line crosses.  Hopefully I find that it's whole again.

Thank you for being with me that day Caroline.  Forever in our hearts.

Here is Caroline Previdi.  The 16th angel I have now run for: